Did You Know the FDA Did Not Test Talcum Powder For Asbestos Content?

Many people think the FDA is our Watchdog Agency. In Fact, the FDA does not test many of the products with which we come into contact almost every day. The FDA did not test talcum powder for asbestos content. That testing was the duty of several companies which have been ordered by juries in recent months to pay large verdicts to mesothelioma victims. Verdicts of over a $100 Million Dollars (including New Jersey) show that juries found, after long trials and skilled defenses, that certain companies knew their talcum powder products contained asbestos and that this asbestos caused mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an incurable disease. In May 2019 another jury found that Johnson & Johnson knew its Baby Powder contained asbestos and awarded the plaintiff $325 Million Dollars. The verdict was $25 Million Dollars to compensate plaintiff and another $300 Million Dollars in punitive damages as a punishment, and as a deterrent for other companies in the future.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma please call me at 856-834-5894 or e-mail me at james@jjpettitlaw.com. The consultation is free and I only represent injured people on a contingency basis so that you owe me nothing unless and until you receive compensation.

J&J had a policy in 1970s to deal with asbestos in its talc products.

At least as early as the 1970s J&J developed a policy to initiate studies only as dictated by confrontation, which allowed J&J to neutralize data already generated by investigators who question the safety of consumer talc products. A 1979 article in the Journal of Environmental Pathology and Toxicology presented study results of a significant increase in respiratory cancer mortality among miners. A 1988 analysis of the data determined that at least one had died of mesothelioma.

If you or a loved one developed mesothelioma, whether you know the source of the asbestos exposure or not, please feel free to contact me for a free consultation at 856-834-5894.


Adding to its legal woes from jury verdicts finding it liable for its talc products causing asbestos-related mesothelioma, drug giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) was hit on July 12, 2018 with a $550 million verdict holding it liable for its baby powder causing ovarian cancer. The St Louis, Missouri jury made the award after a six-week trial where 22 women claimed there was asbestos in J&J Baby Powder and in Shower To Shower. Each woman was awarded $25 million, totalling $550 million. Another defendant, Imerys Talc America, which supplied talc to J&J, settled before trial. There have already been 6 verdicts for this disease and these products; 5 were for plaintiff. Three of the five verdicts have been overturned on appeal, however. This trial, though, emphasized the asbestos component in the talc, and plaintiffs proved the talc was contaminated with asbestos, and that J&J knew about it. The jury will now deliberate on whether J&J should also pay punitive damages.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with MESOTHELIOMA or with OVARIAN CANCER, and used any talc cosmetic or baby powders, please contact the Law Offices of James J. Pettit, LLC at (856) 834-5894 or james@jjpettitlaw.com. 


Mesothelioma Victim Exposed to J&J Talc Wins $25,752,508.16 Verdict

A jury on May 23, 2018 rendered a verdict in favor of a plaintiff who has pleural mesothelioma, agreeing with her that the J&J talc which she used was a substantial contributing factor to arising the disease.  The jury awarded her $21, 752,508.16 and then added $4 million in punitive damages. The jury was unanimous 12-0 on every question on the Verdict Sheet. They held J&J 67% liable (because she was also exposed to asbestos elsewhere). 

If you or a loved on have mesothelioma and were exposed to talc powder, please contact me for  free legal advice and free review of the facts of your case. Any fee would only occur should you actually receive a settlement or verdict. 

2017 Asbestos Verdicts

The following is an incomplete but interesting list of verdicts in asbestos litigation around the country:

NY City $75 million

Baltimore $14.5 million

CertainTeed verdict $10 million

NY City $16.5 million

Tacoma, Wash $85.5 million

Foster Wheeler verdict $3 million

NY City $20 million

Crane verdict $6.7 million

Oakland, Calif $5.3 million

Oregon $5.7 million

Crosby Valve/Fisher Controls verdict $300,000

Oakland, Calif $13 million

NY City $4.3 million

Crosby Valve/Fisher Controls $840,000

Boston, Mass $7.5 million

Tremco verdict $5 million

Suffolk County, NY $13.6 million

Seattle, Wash $975,000

Asbestos Talc verdict $17.6 million

Triple-A verdict $24.2 million

Philadelphia PA $957,000

San Francisco, Calif $2.8 million

There have been other verdicts, including verdicts in favor of the defendants. Also, the facts and law in these trials may be different than in a case you have or know about, and these verdicts are not listed as any guarantee of similar results in other trials, nor are they listed as verdicts that are likely to be achieved in other trials.

Did Johnson & Johnson know its talc products contained asbestos?

Thousands of lawsuits allege that Johnson & Johnson knew in the 1970s that asbestos fibers were present in its talc products and knew also that asbestos caused cancer. Internal memoranda from the company support these allegations. Although Johnson & Johnson defends these lawsuits by denying the significance of, and/or the substance of, these allegations, juries have found that the company ignored the dangers and attempted to hide the risks of using the talc products. Millions of dollars have been awarded by juries to the victims of this exposure.

Penn Med Study shows promise in treating Mesothelioma

A study by Penn Med in Philadelphia published March 10, 2017 in the prestigious medical journal Lancet found that the drug Pembrolizumab was well tolerated and might confer anti-tumor activity in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. The exposure can be occupational (insulators, shipyard workers, electricians, pipe fitters, machinists, etc) but can also occur when the worker brings the asbestos home on work clothes; then family members can be diagnosed with mesothelioma as well. The standard first-line therapy treatment involves chemotherapy and currently there is no approved second-line therapy.  Checkpoint inhibitors are being studied by Evan Alley, MD, PhD, Chief of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Penn Presbyterian Hospital, and other researchers there. They are designed to free the body's immune system to fight back against cancer. 


Hoboken Train Crash

U. S. Senator Charles Schumer asked New Jersey Transit (NJT)  to follow the 2008 Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) recommendation to install inward facing cameras in the train cabs, in the wake of the deadly crash of the NJT commuter train in Hoboken, New Jersey on September 29, 2016. This should not only help determine the cause of crashes, but it should also help deter bad behavior itself. The NTSB reported that the train was at 8 mph with the throttle in the idle position less than one minute before the crash but then the throttle was increased nearly 40 seconds before the crash, and the train maxed out at 21 mph before crashing. 


Another train has crashed into a barrier at the Hoboken, New Jersey terminal. The most recent crash was at about 8:45 am today when a commuter train crashed into the barrier at the terminal. One woman tragically died, apparently while she was standing on the platform. Over 100 passengers were injured. The NTSB and the Federal Railroad Administration are investigating. NTSB has been recommending "Positive Train Control" for many years now and that will be looked at. The two Event Recorders will be pulled and examined. 

In 2011 a PATH train hit a barrier at the end of the line in Hoboken, also around 8:30 am, and almost 3 dozen passengers were seen at area hospitals. In 2009 a PATH train crashed into the barricade as it arrived at the 33rd Street Station, also around 8:15 am. 

Kiddie Kollege Class Action Ruling is Still Pending

Judge James Rafferty awarded $1.5 million in January 2011 for a class of children whose risk of neurological deficits was substantially increased due to their being exposed to mercury vapor at the Kiddie Kollege Daycare Center in Franklin Township, Gloucester County, New Jersey.  After years of post-trial arguments by the defense lawyers for Franklin Township, and then after years of appellate briefing, the Appellate Division heard oral argument. No decision has been rendered yet. The issues range from whether the verdict against Franklin Township should stand, to whether the successful plaintiff lawyers should receive fees for winning the case and establishing testing for the children. I am the court appointed Lead Counsel for all the plaintiff class actions. The Franklin Township defense  lawyers have made a fortune defending the case, filing numerous motions  over the years, filing post trial motions and then filing a voluminous appeal. We hope that justice, as they say, will prevail. 

Sullivans Must Pay for Kiddie Kollege Cleanup

Today the New Jersey Supreme Court declined to review a January 2016 Appellate Division ruling that a Gloucester County family, the Sullivans, must pay part of the $4 million fine and $2 million cleanup cost arising from mercury contamination at the Kiddie Kollege Daycare Center. They had acquired the old thermometer plant and converted it to a Daycare Center without removing the building's toxic mercury. Over 100 babies, toddlers and children were exposed. The building was closed by the State in 2006 and a few yeas later was razed. 

For more on the story of the class action filed on behalf of the children by myself and my co-counsel, see the next blog.

Asbestos Talc Defendant Faces Punitive Damages

Asbestos talc defendant, Engelhard, successor to BASF Catalysts chemical company, ("BASF") had documents showing its talc contained asbestos. Plaintiffs allege that a BASF scientist circulated a memo to purge all such proof, and allege BASF and its law firm obtained false information and included it in court filings. After years of litigation a federal judge in New Jersey denied the law firm's motion to be dismissed from a putative class action in which they are accused of conspiring with BASF to destroy evidence and to fabricate evidence in thousands of asbestos cases. 

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma after using talc in cosmetic products please contact us for a free legal consultation. 

Tel: 856-988-5513 - and - e-mail james@jjpettitlaw.com.


Lumber Liquidators Class Action

Lumber Liquidators has been sued over the formaldehyde in its laminate flooring products. The allegations include the fact that it knew its Chinese suppliers were not complying with California standards for formaldehyde (called CARB 2) but marketed its products as compliant anyway. 

Formaldehyde exposure increases the risk of leukemia and other cancers, as well as the risk of asthma, decreased lung function and chronic respiratory irritation. Labs hired by 60 Minutes found the flooring released formaldehyde in excess of California standards. The EPA called the problem "polluted indoor conditions". The Center for Disease Control (CDC) said the products may cause a 3X higher risk of cancer, and may cause cancers a the rate of 6 to 30 per 100,000.

If you have Lumber Liquidator' laminate flooring products and you want a free legal consultation, please call 856-988-5513.

Seminar on Social Media and Lawyers

On February 6 James J. Pettit co-chaired a seminar on Technology for Lawyers and also delivered a presentation on the use of Social Media by lawyers. The audience consisted of trial lawyers from New Jersey and the sponsor was New Jersey Association for Justice (NJAJ). His main topics were:

1. An adversary lawyer, or even a paralegal, cannot ethically "friend" the other party on Facebook while concealing the fact that they are, or work for, the other side in the lawsuit..

2. When a client posts on Facebook the privacy settings must include only friends. If so, a good argument can be made that even the judge should not order that the private posts be made available to the adversary lawyer in the litigation.                            

Care that corporations are eliminating your constitutional right to jury trial?

If the right to bear arms was being eliminated, the outcry from many Americans would be deafening. Yet silently corporations are eliminating your right to have a jury trial. You will probably unknowingly tie up this right if you apply for a job, shop online, place a relative in a nursing home, apply for a credit card. There will be a clause buried in the fine print that you must go to arbitration and not a jury. 

So what? you might say. Aren't arbitrators neutral? Statistics show that in most types of arbitrations the arbitrators hold in favor of the corporation over the individual 80% of the time. Does that sound like they're neutral? Arbitrators are usually selected by corporations over and over again and it can be a lucrative source of income for the lawyers that arbitrate. Why would they want to bite the hand of the corporations that give them most of their 'return business'? Also, most arbitration awards are not appealable. Also, the right to class actions are largely eliminated. If your phone company overcharges you $250, what lawyer would take your $250 case? The only way to seek justice is if thousands of customers are involved in a class action. Again, that right is being wiped away from the court system.

Some legislators care. Some judges care. It will take citizen support to regain your constitutional right to a jury trial, however. 





The federal court in Camden recently ruled on issues of alleged DEFAMATION in a case that was removed from state court to federal court. Judge Noel L. Hillman ruled on June 10, 2015 on the issue of whether the plaintiff had sufficiently plead the facts underlying his claim of defamation. Because the standards of federal court pleadings have been ruled to be higher than in the typical state court complaint, the judge reviewed the complaint under federal law. The federal judge ruled that the complaint was sufficiently plead even under federal standards. The plaintiff had alleged that his prior defendants had stated orally to "high level officers" of the company which currently employed him that plaintiff was going to be criminally charged with rape between the end of 2013 and the summer of 2014 with the intent to harm his professional and personal reputation. This ruling did to go to the truth or falsity of the claims, but rather only to whether the allegations met the federal standard for pleading in a complaint. My above summary also does not go to the issue of the truth or falsity of the allegations.  (Carl Diantonio vs Vanguard Funding, LLC, et al. Civil No. 14-4526 (NLH/JS) June 10 2015.)

Committee Appointment

James Pettit was recently re-appointed to the Civil Practice Committee of the New Jersey Association for Justice.  Proposals from the Committee are formally presented to various bodies such as New Jersey Supreme Court Committees. Recent issues included the interplay between jury selection and delays in getting a trial date for injured parties. For example, these issues were discussed:  how long does jury selection take; are judicially-mandated open-ended questions being asked; how many days before the trial starts are juries being selected. Specific proposals are being sent to improve the process, because  "Justice delayed is justice denied."


Although its formal final report may be many months in the future, the NTSB did render a Preliminary Report on the May 12, 2015 Amtrak derailment. As previously reported, the train was speeding at 106 mph at the Frankford Junction curve posted at 50 mph. The locomotive and all seven (7) passenger cars derailed. Eight people were killed  and over 200 were transported to hospitals. As of now no anomalies were found in the braking systems, signals or track geometry, but the investigation continues. The Engineer's cell phone was used that day but it is not clear yet whether or not it was dying the time the train was operated. The NTSB is looking at the Event Recorder ("Black Box"), outward facing video, recordings of radio communications, and surveillance video. So far it does not appear that a thrown object or a bullet caused the derailment.

As the federal court-appointed Lead Counsel for all class actions filed in the District of NJ in the Paulsboro, NJ Conrail derailment, I know that the final NTSB report may not be forthcoming for a very long time.

If you or a loved one were victims of the Amtrak derailment and wish to have a free legal consultation to understand your right to bring an individual lawsuit (and not to be caught up in a huge mass tort and not to be solicited by lawyers with no railroad litigation experience), please call me at 856-988-5513 or e-mail me at james@jjpettitlaw.com.